Like virtually all horses, Icelandics can walk, trot and canter/gallop. However, in addition to these basic gaits, Icelandics should also be able to tölt.
Tölt is a 4-beat lateral gait, where the footfalls are the same as in walk – left hind – left front – right hind – right front, in an even rhythm. Although this is a gait which can be performed at all speeds (from a fast walking speed through to canter speed) there is no moment of suspension as there is always at least one foot in contact with the ground. This makes the tölt very smooth and comfortable for the rider.
An Icelandic which can walk, trot, canter/gallop and tölt is known as a “four gaited horse”. Some Icelandics prefer trot, others prefer tölt. Correct training can improve the horse´s weakest gaits, but many Icelandics tölt completely naturally – it´s common to see foals tölting after their mothers.
There are also Icelandics which are “five gaited”. These horses can walk, trot, canter/gallop, tölt and pace.
Pace is a two beat lateral gait with a moment of suspension. The footfalls are left hind – left front – – – – – right hind – right front. The hooves on the same side land almost simultaneously. This is a fast gait used for racing, and some Icelandics can reach speeds of up to 30mph. Some horses pace slowly, which is uncomfortable for the rider and not encouraged. Flying pace is a gait for well-balanced, well-trained horses with good riders – it´s not generally used as a “day-to-day” travelling gait.